Antonia is frustrated at the remorseless whitewashed awards ceremonies from the US to the UK and wants to know why are these #AwardsSoWhite?
Not a single UK act of colour managed to make the cut.
We have seen the fitting Brits So White hashtag resurrected and reinterpreted recently, sending ripples through social media, directly commenting on the lack of diversity in the list of nominees for the Brit Awards. Among eleven categories, a shocking total of two non-white nominees managed to scrape the list, or the award for Best International Male Solo. Not a single UK act of colour managed to make the cut. Even Krept and Konan’s number 2 album wasn’t deemed good or popular enough to make the list. This has sparked calls for The Brits to release their voting academy diversity figures with a Change.org petition
The original, #OscarsSoWhite was created last year after April Reign (@ReignOfApril) took to Twitter after noticing that not a single one of the twenty actors and actresses nominated for the Academy Award was a person of colour. Sadly the story was the same with this year’s nominees. The hashtag spread like wildfire and many began publicly calling out the lack of diversity represented at the American awards ceremony. And unfortunately, it’s apparent that we’re not doing so well on this side of the pond either.
‘None of my Gs nominated for Brits, are you taking the p*ss?
This year I’ll let that slide, stop panicking
But next year I’m going on dark Like wa gwarn is my face too dark?
Last year they told the mandem that to be nominated, you gotta go on UK charts
So… What do we do, we chart
Don’t come here with your lies, don’t start.’
(Stormzy – ‘One Take Freestyle’)
In the last six months Britain has faced criticism from the likes of Lenny Henry (after being mistaken for Ainsley Harriett by ITV producers) renewing his calls for a ‘sea change’ on diversity. Idris Elba spoke about it, Ed Vaizey challenged it Lily Allen tweeted her concern about lack of diversity in the Brit awards nominees, only later to be retorted at by James Bay who diverted attention away from the real issue, by questioning her own relevance in music today.
Last year we saw Kanye (problematically?) co-sign grime by taking to the stage at The Brits with Skepta, Giggs, Stormzy, Jammer, Novelist and many more, who frankly looked like his hype men. A virtually unknown Allan Kingdom got more airtime than the UK acts at a Brit Award event. This is no shade to Kanye, as it seems he recognised the need to bring them out with him, thus made the statement that needed to be made. But the problem seems to lie with the selection of people who make up the voting academy – they are clearly not representative of the myriad of sound that represents Britain.
According to The Brits website, the voting Academy is “made up of over 1,000 music enthusiasts representing every sector of the music industry: record labels, publishers, managers, agents, media and NUS Ents officers, and, introduced last year, the nominated artists or Award winders from the previous year.” Surely a healthy portion of them must have realised the need to accurately reflect British music unlike last year’s performers and this year’s shockingly white nominees?
***Warning – explicit language***
2015 was the year in which grime was given airtime on a world platform within mainstream media, despite it having been around for the last 12 years. Stormzy’s infectious freestyle ‘Shut Up’ made history last year, being the first ever freestyle to reach Top 40 chart in the UK. Top 40 equals popular music, so why is popular music not accurately being depicted at Awards
Is it the case that these types of acts are reserved for being recognised and credited at the MOBOs?
***Warning – explicit language***
Like Stormzy, I’m curious to know why it is that in every award category for the nominees this year bar International Male Solo Artist, every single act is Caucasian. This is not an accurate reflection of the diversity and wide span of British music or British culture. Ed Sheeran, Jessie J, Sam Smith and Adele seem to be waving the Union Jack for pop, soul and the sound of the UK but what about the Lady Leshurrs, the Skeptas, and the Jamie Woons?
The Brits weren’t made to celebrate one particular genre, they’re meant to be all-encompassing for the current sound of Britain, so why they drowned out? Amy Winehouse is undeniably a pinnacle of new-skool British jazz, but it’s mind-boggling that she’s been put up for British Female Solo Artist, five years after her death. Having spared her for one year would have given room for people like Little Simz, who has crossed over, repping an unapologetically British take on hip-hop which saw her earn a spot of Forbes’ ’30 Under 30′ Europe list.
As Big Narstie put it, the success of his and his own peers’ career ‘is made by a guy who sits in an office who thinks he knows everything about the UK music scene because he’s been sitting in this office for fifteen years. But when’s the last time you got turned up?’//
#BritsSoWhite: Lack of diversity sparks debate ‘I come from Lambeth, Brixton. I’m a regular at the pound shop. So what type of stuff do you want me to impress you with?’Big Narstie speaks to Channel 4 News on the lack of diversity at this years Brit awards – a controversy that has sparked a petition, the #BritsSoWhite hashtag and a major debate.
Posted by Channel 4 News on Tuesday, 23 February 2016